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Sea turtles are one of the few sea animals facing the highest level of threats from multiple sources. This is because of their growth process, habitat, feeding pattern, and appearance. Of the seven species known to man, six are known to be threatened by different world factors. Some of the most prevalent threats include:
Most species of sea turtles swim from one location to another in search of food and habitat. In the course of doing this, they can get caught in shrimp nets or fishing nets. Some of them can also be injured by bombs used for fishing in some areas. The long lines are also another fishing gear that tends to harm most sea turtles.
Eggs and Meat consumption
The illegal practices of selling the eggs of sea turtles and eating their meat are still on in several parts of the world. This is because some parts of the world consider the sea turtle egg as an aphrodisiac.
Buildings on the coast
The development of the coastal areas and mangroves is another form of threat to the reproduction of sea turtles. This is because the female species have to travel to the beach to nest and feed. These buildings will prevent the eggs from hatching and the hatchlings from surviving.
Plastics and Debris: Some of the sea turtles eat plastics, which is dangerous to their health. Some other ones are caught in the numerous plastics on the surface of the ocean and beaches. The microplastic also affects the baby turtles.
Trading Turtle shells
The hawksbills are victims of this because of their beautifully-patterned shells. This makes them sell at higher prices in the “turtleshell” market. Buyers make use of their shells to design their home walls. Some can also use it as some form of jewelry.
The seven species are classified into four groups depending on their levels of threat. These are:
- Critically Endangered: The Hawksbills fall in this category due to their tradable turtle shell. The Kemp’s Ridleys are also in this category. This is because of the threat they face from oil spills and coastal developments. These species face the highest risk of going into extinction.
- Endangered: The green turtles are in this group. This is linked to the consumption of their meat and eggs. It is also due to the coastal developments, hence affecting their habitat. This species might also be going into extinction soon.
- Vulnerable: The highest sets of species are in this group. The first is the leatherbacks, and they are vulnerable because they tend to be caught in fishing gears and plastics. The consumption of their eggs by some population also makes them fall into this category. Loggerheads are also vulnerable because they can be easily caught by fishing. The Olive Ridleys are the last in this category, and their vulnerability is traceable to their egg consumption, fishing gear threats, and coastal development.
- Data Deficient: These species are data deficient because there is not enough information about them, making them unavailable for evaluation. Flatbacks fall under this category as they can also fall prey to fishing. Some populations also believe that their eggs and meats are edible.
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